It starts with swoops of electro-noise shifting into a violin line that's punctured by what seems like unison clapping, then a thundering Balkan-style horn section with tubas and trumpets (sampled from the German/Romanian band, Fanfara Kalashnikov) chopped up, occasionally devolving into electro-stuttering. Low-end bass blips propel the song forward into clubland. Use your imagination and you can see swirling lights and a bejeweled dancer undulating on stage behind feathered fans.
This is Beats Antique, an Oakland-based live-electro trio with David Satori and Tommy Cappel on laptops and instruments and dancer Zoe Jakes providing choreography that draws on tribal bellydance, African dance, samba and burlesque traditions.
When I spoke with "Sidecar" Tommy, he was winding down from Halloween, which marked his last show playing drums for Yard Dogs Road Show, a circusy rock 'n' roll vaudeville cabaret he'd been with for nine years.
"I've been making hip hop breakdance beats since I was a kid, making loops, playing drums over them," he said, calling from his studio in an East Oakland warehouse called Vulcan, where he is one of many renting a work/live space. "I got into electronic music at Berklee College of Music while studying drums. I've been playing drums, bass and piano my whole life, so that's where my specialty is. David is more on the melodic side - guitar, viola, violin, horn arrangements, that side of things."
Tommy and David met around the time David was finishing music studies at Cal Arts in L.A. David ended up moving to the Bay Area and working with the world beat band Aphrodesia, playing guitar and writing arrangements.
Zoe was with Yard Dogs for a time and was also working with record producer Miles Copeland (brother of Stewart Copeland) who had a dance troupe called Bellydance Superstars. Zoe was one of the Superstars, focusing on tribal style.
"Miles was into the music she was using for her choreography: downtempo sample-based hip hop with Middle-eastern elements, obscure dance tracks by Bjork, things from the Glitch Mob, stuff along those lines. He wanted to put out music like that. One time when we were driving together to a Yard Dogs gig up north, probably at the Mateel, she told me what Miles had in mind. I was totally into it."
So three years ago, the three got together in Tommy's Vulcan studio and started working on neo-tribal dance tracks. Beats Antique was the end result, a mini-troupe doing live performances based on studio experimentation. "We try to keep the show moving, always going in new directions," says Tommy, "always contrasting the organic with the electronic, the ancient with the modern."
Want to dance with Beats Antique? They're playing Friday at the Red Fox Tavern; Portland-based producer/DJ Danny Corn opens the show.
Get your weekend started early with Noonan's Liquid Lounge at the Jambalaya Thursday, this week featuring DJ R-kives and DJ Sycamore followed by ever-evolving funksters Moo-Got-2. Or head up to Six Rivers for The Bump Foundation. Scotch Wiggly plays alt-ish rock earlier in the evening at Mad River Brewing in Blue Lake, where I hear they've expanded the tasting room.
The Marjo Wilson Band, a backwoods rock band from Covelo known from numerous benefits at the Mateel, plays for the first time at the Riverwood Inn on Friday. Earlier that night, also down SoHum way, Persimmons Gallery and Café hosts a live recording session by Three on the Tree (like the stick shift), a jazz trio with Francis Vanek on sax, Tommy Lockett on bass and Persimmons proprietor Michael Curran on drums.
Kawabata Makota, the shredding guitarist from the legendary Japanese psyche-band Acid Mothers Temple, brings his awesomeness to the Jambalaya Saturday night, sharing the bill with ?Alos, a solo project by Italian experimental artist Stefania Pedretti (from the band OvO), and Radio Moscow, a heavy psyche-rock trio from Iowa, who just relocated to Arcata.
These United States, a bright shiny indie rock/folk combo from Washington D.C. and Lexington KY, hits Humboldt Brews Saturday night playing songs from their bright shiny new disc, Everything Touches Everything. Local duo Peace of Mind Orchestra opens. Haven't heard them yet, but POMO apparently moved here from New Orleans, and that's a good sign. They're also playing earlier that evening at Humboldt Glassblowers in Eureka for Arts Alive!
Of course they won't be the only band playing AA! that evening. Sari Baker and Mike Craighead are at Old Town Coffee and Chocolate; ShinBone does their R&B thing at the Eureka Theater and The Bayside Quartet plays fiddle tunes, blues and such next door at the Graves Museum.
Raconteur Jeff DeMark returns to the Westhaven Center for the Arts Saturday with some new stories, "Wax Johnson rants and ruminations" (whatever that means) and songs with music by The LaPatinas: guitarist Damon Brooks from Trifecta, Papa Houli bassist Mark O'Hara, and drummer Paul DeMark (Jeff's twin).
The late great Bob Marley left us too early, but he left a few kids behind to carry the reggae torch, and they're regulars around these parts. Next up: Julian Marley, who's touring behind a new album, Arise. He plays Sunday at Nocturnum with his band The Uprising and a very special guest, his half-bro, Stephen Marley. And yes, they'll play some of Bob's great songs.
Boris Garcia, an accomplished jamgrass band with various Dead connections, plays Sunday at Humboldt Brews. One connection is Grateful Dead historian David Gans, who's been championing B.G. Gans also plays in the opening band, Rubber Souldiers, a Beatles tribute trio where he's joined by the Rowan Brothers, Lorin and Chris. He describes the concept as, "Beatles vocabulary with a Grateful Dead syntax," explaining, "The Beatles wrote all these kick-ass songs and these amazing grooves, and then they quit 'em after three minutes. And so we're stretching them out and stringing them together."
The next Monday Budget Rock show at the Jambalaya (Nov. 9) is a Panache thing with four bands: Portland-based alt. garage duo Panther, who record for Kill Rock Stars, and drone-psyche duo Sun Circle from "Vermontana," plus locals The Zac Institute (a trio, just playing Zac's songs) and Marty's musical madness The Mr. Moonbeam Show.
Same night across town at Humboldt Brews, Kyp Malone, the bearded singer/guitarist for Brooklyn megaband TV on the Radio, plays with his solo project, Rain Machine, touring behind an eponymous album just out on Anti-. Malone describes Rain Machine's psyche-soul-jazz music as "a nearly full spectrum of frequencies audible to the human ear, a reflection of a variety of emotions and situations real and imagined - some rhythm some rhyme."
Hard rockers The Generatorz serve as hosts for the next Tuesday Blues Jam at the Jambalaya. Singer Madi Simmons notes, "I am going to be coming with that Chicago blues style that I was brought up in."
The KHSU Classical Celebration Friday evening at the Arkley Center is a continuation of the year-long 50th anniversary bash, in this case with a focus on the station's morning mainstay, locally-produced classical music programs. To celebrate veteran deejays like Felicia Oldfather, Ed Campbell, Bonnie Burgess, Richard Stanewick, Ben Tankersley and Cynthia Graebner, they've assembled a classical concert with music associated with the respective shows played by the Humboldt Symphony and a collection of smaller ensembles with HSU profs/alums John Chernoff, Paul Cummings, Carol Jacobson, Cindy Moyer and Virginia Ryder, plus guitarist Nicholas Lambson doing a solo performance.
In an unfortunate coincidence, the Classical Celebration takes place at exactly the same time the youngish Parker String Quartet plays a concert at Calvary Lutheran Church as part of the Eureka Chamber Music Series. Unfortunate because the loyal audience for Pearl and Bob Micheli's series is made up of the same folks who listen to KHSU's late morning lineup.